0 Posted by - November 18, 2015 - Breishit, Parsha


Parashat Vayetze

Prayer. It can be the most emotionally intense part of your day, or just something that you need to get over in order to get on to the next thing. It all depends on your approach to prayer, how much you believe in it, and your state of mind.

If I would advertise a course, “Lessons from Leah on how to attract your soul mate”, I would have a full crowd. If I would advertise a course, “Lessons from Leah on how to pray your eyes out”, I would have less of a crowd. But that is how you attract your soul mate. By praying your eyes out.

My students asked me, “Rabbi, how will I know that the girl I want to marry is actually my soul mate?” I asked them, “What’s the difference if she is or she is not? If you love her and have the same goals in life, why do you need to know that she is your soul mate?” They have no response. I do not understand how a person will ever know if his soul mate is his soul mate.

The yeshiva guys laugh about Beit Yaakov seminary girls. When you ask a Beit Yaakov girl who she wants to marry, the answer is always ‘Reb Chaim’. “While she is in seminary, all pumped up by her teachers to marry a Torah Scholar on a high level of learning, from the best yeshivah, she wants R’ Chaim Brisker, who learnt in the Brisker Yeshiva. From Shidduchim until the first child, she wants to marry R’ Chaim Na’eh. She wants him to be נאה, good looking for the pictures. And after she has her first child, she wants to be married to R’ Chaim Ozer, the one who knows how to help out (עוזר) when she needs him.”

Life has different stages. Each stage has its needs and desires. And in some way, each stage has its soul mate. If you want your spouse to fit the needs and desires of your present stage, you need to pray that your spouse be your soul mate, today. You need to pray that as of and for today, your spouse will be compatible.

One of the common questions about prayer is, Why do I need to pray if G-d can read my mind and knows what I want from Him? He knows what we are going to say even before we know what we are going to say! The answer is the law of Cause and Effect. G-d did not bring rain, or let things grow, until Adam was created and prayed for it. Even though grass and trees were “supposed to” appear, G-d did not bring the rain until the creation of Adam, a creature that was a רוח ממללא, one that could pray to G-d. G-d might not let you enjoy that life that you are “supposed to” have, until you pray for it. True, G-d does not need our prayer, for He knows what we are going to say before we even say it. But we need G-d, we need his generosity, so we need to beg. We need to show appreciation when our prayers our answered. This law of prayer in creation is the law of Cause and Effect. People think that a soul mate is a set thing. But just because you are supposed to get something in life, or you are supposed to get married to a specific person, it does not mean it is going to happen. You need to pray to bring down the Shefa, the abundance, from Above.

But, in this week’s parasha, we find something even more amazing. Yaakov and Esav were twins born to Rivka. Rachel and Leah were both twins born to Rivka’s brother, Lavan. Leah was born a few moments before Rachel. Rachel and Leah were told about their first cousins, and that the first born is destined to the first born, and the younger one destined to the younger one. Leah, who was older than Rachel, sat at the crossroads asking about Esav’s deeds, and was very disturbed about her findings. She cried, she fasted. She would cry so much that, the Torah tells us, her eyes were weary. She prayed so hard that the tears in her eyes made her eyes soft.

There is a Sephardic custom for the grandmothers to make some sort of high pitched “Li Li Li” war cry at joyous occasions. This cry originates from the cries made by the townsfolk at Yaakov’s wedding, when Lavan switched Leah for Rachel while the lights were out. The townsfolk tried to inform Yaakov of Lavan’s scheme to exchange the sisters,(Li, Li for Leah) but Yaakov had his Simanim, the laws of Family Purity that he had taught Rachel, on which he would test his Bride the night of the wedding. Rachel taught those laws to Leah, to prevent her older sister from being embarrassed. The morning after the wedding, Yaakov found that he had actually married Leah, not Rachel. What do you think Leah’s excuse was?

Leah responded, “I learnt from you! When your father asked, “Who are you?”, you said “I am Esav!” You lied to get the Berachot! So did I! I lied in order to have a chance to be a Mother of the Jewish Nation!” What type of “excuse” was that, for doing such a thing to Yaakov, tricking him the night of the wedding?

When Leah had her firstborn, she called him Reuven. The Torah tells us why. ×›×™ ראה ×”’ בעניי Because G-d saw my suffering. But our Rabbis tell us another reason why she called him Reuven. ראו מה בין בני לבין בן חמי Look at the difference between my son and the son of my father-in-law, Esav. “Esav sold his firstborn rights, and still he stalked Yaakov, intending to kill him. My son Reuven’s firstborn rights will be taken from him for something he will do with good intention (for moving his father’s bed), and still, he will save his younger brother Yosef’s life, despite Yosef’s getting a double portion of the inheritance.” How do we reconcile this Midrash with the reason the Torah gives us?

The answer is phenomenal. Leah prayed so hard that it says in the Tanhuma, בדין – she deserved Yaakov. How is that so? Even though her soul mate was Esav, for she and he were both first born, she prayed so hard that Esav ended up selling his firstborn rights to Yaakov! So, it turns out that now, Yaakov is her soul mate, not Esav! That is why she mentioned Esav’s selling his firstborn rights. And this is why she explained her actions, the morning after the wedding, to Yaakov, saying that by having taken the rights of the firstborn, he got the blessings, and he said that he was in Esav’s place. If so, explained Leah, I am supposed to be married to you, and now YOU are my soul mate. On the other hand, the Tanhuma teaches that Rachel did not feel a need to pray; she felt that Yaakov was meant to be hers, so her marriage ended up being not such smooth sailing. (See M. Tanchuma)

It all boils down to realizing that without prayer, we have nothing. With it, we have the whole world. I remember a certain bachur that I got to know when I was learning here in Israel as a yeshiva student. This boy had no tact. He made unintelligent comments, got into your life, and did not know how to let people alone. The guys said that “he was like bubble gum stuck in your hair”. He ended up realizing what people thought about him and decided to pray for forty days, in a row, at the Kotel and ask G-d “for a brain”. After the 40 days, he started learning, for the first time in his life. He finished Massechet Megillah within a month and a half, and his family flew in to join him for the first siyum he ever made in his life. For that matter, it was the first achievement he had ever made in his life. He moved up and up; he got to the top shiur, got a top shidduch and lived happily ever after. From praying at the Kotel forty days for a brain.

G-d wants our prayers. He wants us to pray, so that He can give us what we are “supposed to” have. And prayer is so powerful that it forces things our way in life, not out of mercy, but out of cause and effect! בדין!






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